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MONTREAL, FEBRUARY 18,  2013-    Proceeds from the sale  of a collection of paintings will be used to create an endowment fund for  the purposes of providing scholarships to graduating English Montreal School Board (EMSB) high school students.

The Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal (PSBGM) Cultural Heritage Foundation informed the EMSB Council of Commissioners of this decision last September. A collection of paintings was donated to the  Foundation by the former PSBGM through a deed of donation on October 28, 1981. These works of art had  been acquired over a period of time through the generous donations of various benefactors, as well as the purchase of some. They generally related to works of art by Canadian artists or subjects of general Canadian interest.

Plans now call for the greater part of the collection to be sold through auctions, while donating some of the other works of art to museums – which is expected to benefit EMSB students through access benefits to particular museums All of the paintings which had been housed at either the EMSB Administration Building on Fielding Avenue in N.D.G. or at specific schools or centres have now been removed.

“We feel very fortunate that the Foundation has decided to establishing a scholarship fund for the students of the EMSB,” said EMSB Chairman Angela Mancini.  “There is no question how much we appreciated having these beautiful works of art to look at these last many years. However, in the grand scheme of things, we cannot help but be elated to know the proceeds from their sale will benefit students presently in our system.”

PSBGM Cultural Heritage Foundation Chairman George Vathilakis says that  an endowment fund  will be created for the purposes of providing scholarships to EMSB students to continue their studies. “The general guidelines for the scholarships will be to recognize academic achievement and perseverance against difficult odds,” he said.  “The selection of the students is to be done by the EMSB school administrators.”

EMSB Commissioner Bernard Praw, who is also a member of the Foundation, says that an  endowment fund will be managed by a large financial institution.  “All financial transactions shall be handled by the financial institution,” he explained. “Audited financial statements will be provided on an annual basis”.

A large number of the paintings in the PSBGM collection were largely the result of the efforts of Anne Savage. She had been the art teacher at Baron Byng from 1922 - 1948 and went on to be the Art Supervisor for the Montreal Protestant School Board until she retired in 1952.  Although Ms. Savage had retired from the PSBGM, she was still very active in the art world.

When the PSBGM moved its Administration Building from McTavish Street to Fielding Avenue in July 1961, Ms. Savage was given the mandate to purchase Canadian art for the new building.  The works included paintings by A.Y.Jackson, Robert Pilot, Lorne Bouchard, Maurice Cullen, Frederick Arbuckle, Albert Cloutier, Frederick Coburn and more. The numerous works by A.Y. Jackson are perhaps due to the close association between Ms. Savage and Jackson as well as her relationship with the Group of Seven. In addition, Ms.  Savage used her influence to have some of the artists donate paintings to some schools, particularly, Baron Byng High School.

Ms. Savage's own works came to 6000 Fielding only when Baron Byng was closed. They were "discovered" packed away in the basement of the school. These did not include the panels in the school's cafeteria.  The two large historical paintings by R. Pilot were moved to the fourth  floor Board Room upon the closure of the High School of Montreal. A.Y. Jackson's oil painting - Winter St. Fidèle, Quebec - was installed in the Director General's office when Marcel Fox was appointed to the post. It had been at Baron Byng High School.  Most of the paintings of the collection have been housed at 6000 Fielding, while some have been housed in schools of the EMSB and two at the Town of Mount Royal library.

Mr. Praw says that the Foundation has, on occasion, loaned some of the works of art for exhibition purposes to art galleries. Noteworthy is the loan of the A.Y. Jackson painting “St. Fidèle, Quebec to the National Gallery of Canada for exhibition all across Canada from October 1995 to December 1996.

The PSBGM Cultural Heritage Foundation has an annual general meeting held in late November or early December, after it  receives its audited financial statements.

In its efforts to keep the collection intact, the  former chairman of the Foundation,  the late Allan Butler, and the curator and Director General of the PSBGM, Michael George, met with representatives of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in the Fall of 1997 to discuss the donation of the art collection held by the Foundation. The Museum of Fine Arts indicated that it was interested only in certain of the works and not the complete collection. It was interested in about 40 of the more valuable paintings in the collection and would sell the balance to raise funds for further acquisitions. The Foundation then informed the Museum of Fine Arts that it would continue to hold the art collection.

The Foundation donated two murals (one of which has two sides) painted by Anne Savage for the Baron Byng library to Concordia University in November 2002. The murals had sustained damage when they were bolted to the walls of the school. Concordia had examined all the Savage panels in the year 2000 and indicated that restoration was almost impossible for most.  However, it was prepared to restore those two least damaged panels if they would be donated to the University. The Foundation pursued the possibility of obtaining a grant from Cultural Heritage Canada for repairs to the remaining panels without success. There is now interest by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to restore the remaining panels and the Foundation has agreed to donate these to the Museum of Fine Arts.

The Foundation also has agreed to donate the following pieces of art:

  • 4 pieces on WWI by Robert Pilot to the War Museum in Ottawa
  • Portrait of Lt. Corporal Fred Fisher, V.C. to the Black Watch Regiment Museum In Montreal
  • 21 engravings on the Bombardment of Quebec to The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
  • The remaining panels by Anne Savage to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213